In time for St. Patrick's Day, the paperback edition of Beacon's immensely popular gift book of Irish verse The Irish have long been associated with great writing generally and with poetry specifically. The love of language pervades this strong culture, and the Irish people have long shared poetry with each other, whether in the street, in the home, or in the pub. These poems may be bawdy or tragic, but there is always something quintessentially Irish about them. In Gather Round Me, Christopher Cahill has put together a collection of the best of these popular poems, found in newspapers, heard in pubs, or put down in diaries. With explanatory tes that make the verse more accessible, these poems give voice to the Irish character, full of humor, mischief, and wit. Gather Round Me is . . . a wonderful gathering of popular Irish lyrics ranging from traditional songs to the rhymes of Brendan Behan and beyond. Like a long night in the flaring glow of a pub, the collection mixes the playful and the tragic, the melancholy and the ironic, and it reminds us finally of a dispossessed people's need for songs and poems that could always be carried in their hearts and minds. --Billy Collins A lovely rattlebag, a saddlebag, a grab bag of poems. Christopher Cahill has put together a collection that gathers us around four hundred years of love, life, and lament. There's a marvelous eclectic arc in operation here. Cahill invents a hearth where we are invited to sit from early morning until nightfall, so open a bottle and set aside the parting glass. --Colum McCann, author of Dancer
Christopher Cahill is editor-in-chief of The Recorder, the journal of the American Irish Historical Society, and executive director of the Institute for Irish American Studies at City University of New York. He cohosts NBC's annual broadcast of New York's St. Patrick's Day parade and lives in New York City.